- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

The Easter bunny may be donning his own pair of earbuds this spring.

Parents, concerned about the increasing incidence of childhood obesity, are replacing chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps in Easter baskets this weekend with CDs, ITunes cards, books or arts and crafts.

The percentage of overweight children has jumped from 5 percent to 16 percent over the past 40 years, according to a National Health Examination Survey.

Though Easter egg hunts continue to be a popular tradition, parents are getting creative in what they put inside the eggs, substituting small gifts for sugary snacks.

Carol Bordiga, 48, of Long Island, N.Y., bought ITunes prepaid music cards for her son and daughter after the children received IPods for Christmas.

“I don’t like doing the chocolate,” she said. “They have enough of that during the year.”

Instead, she plans to buy new DVD releases like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Happy Feet.”

Jim and Liz Columbo of Manalapan, N.J., are doing the same. The couple said their children will be receiving CDs, PlayStation video games or SpongeBob SquarePants apparel.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Easter spending is estimated to reach $14.3 billion. Popular locations for Easter shopping include specialty stores, online and catalogs. Although discount stores see the most traffic, they won’t have as much as last year, according to NRF’s 2007 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

Thomas and Sara Steinfort of Quakerstown, Pa., avoid chocolate, putting toys, stuffed animals or videos in their children’s baskets each year.

“Those types of gifts last longer,” Mrs. Steinfort said. “Kids can use them more often.”

Bob and Lorraine Riedl of Kendall, Wis., typically give all three children, ages 10, 13, 15, a book or something educational.

“We get enough candy as it is,” Mrs. Riedl said.

Palm Beach, Fla., residents Tom and Ruth Banks focus on activities rather than giving gifts during the Easter season. Typically, the family goes out to a movie over the holiday weekend. This year, however, 14-year-old son Ian received quite the outing.

“He got a trip to trip to Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Banks said.

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